Am I In an Adult Interdependent Relationship?
Akin to married and common law couples, unmarried couples in Alberta, who are in an Adult Interdependent Relationship [AIP], are entitled to certain benefits such as property or support, pursuant to Alberta legislation, such as the Family Law Act and Family Property Act.
The Adult Interdependent Relationship Act [the Act], provides various factors for the court to take into consideration in determining whether one is in an AIP.
In order to be in an AIP, one must be in a “relationship of interdependence” with their partner. Section 1(1)(f) of the Act, provides specific factors to be taken into consideration in determining whether one is in a “relationship of interdependence”,
- Share one another’s lives;
- Are emotionally committed to one another; and
- Function as an economic domestic unit.
The Act does not define what it means to share your life with your partner, or what is means to be emotionally committed to one another, however, caselaw does provide insight. For instance, in Ross v Doehl, 2021 ABQB 1020, the courts held that sharing one another’s lives is more than a “casual or occasional interaction”, rather partners are committed to a mutual endeavour.
The Act does, however, provide specific factors to be examined in determining whether a couple functions as an economic unit:
- (a)whether or not the persons have a conjugal relationship;
- (b) the degree of exclusivity of the relationship;
- (c) the conduct and habits of the persons in respect of household activities and living arrangements;
- (d) the degree to which the persons hold themselves out to others as an economic and domestic unit;
- (e) the degree to which the persons formalize their legal obligations, intentions and responsibilities toward one another;
- (f) the extent to which direct and indirect contributions have been made by either person to the other or to their mutual well-being;
- (g) the degree of financial dependence or interdependence and any arrangements for financial support between the persons;
- (h) the care and support of children; and
- (i) the ownership, use and acquisition of property.
In addition to the above, the following must be present in determining whether you are in an AIP:
- You must have lived with your partner in a relationship of interdependence for at least three years; or
- Some permanence in the relationship, for example a child; or
- You have entered into an AIP agreement with your partner.
Many couples will be surprised to learn that the Act does not define what it means to live with your partner, nor do you have to live with your partner to be in an AIP. For instance, in Tait v Westpal, 2013 ABQB 668 and Rockey v Hartwell, 2016 ABQB 438, the courts held that partners who had maintained separate residences were AIP’s pursuant to the Act. Therefore, one can conclude that you are not required to reside with your partner to be deemed in an AIP, rather, it is about the degree/ extent of interdependence with your partner.
Many unmarried couples may be surprised to learn that they are in an AIP, as such, you and/or your partner may be entitled to rights pursuant to various legislation. You can contact Osuji & Smith Family Lawyers today, to determine whether you are or were in an AIP, and the entitlements you may receive or owe as a result.
Author: Amanda Jacinto